What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
UTIs are common infections that happen when bacteria, often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract. The infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis).
Kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is another type of UTI. They’re less common but more serious than bladder infections.
Some people are at higher risk of getting a UTI. UTIs are more common in females because their urethras are shorter and closer to the rectum. This makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
Other factors that can increase the risk of UTIs:
- A previous UTI
- Sexual activity
- Changes in the bacteria that live inside the vagina, or vaginal flora. For example, menopause or the use of spermicides can cause these bacterial changes.
- Age (older adults and young children are more likely to get UTIs)
- Structural problems in the urinary tract, such as enlarged prostate
- Poor hygiene, for example, in children who are potty-training
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are powerful medications that treat certain infections and can save lives when used properly. They either stop bacteria from reproducing or destroy them.
Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the immune system can typically kill them. White blood cells (WBCs) attack harmful bacteria — even if symptoms occur, the immune system can usually cope and fend off the infection.
However, sometimes the number of harmful bacteria is excessive, and the immune system cannot clear them all. Antibiotics are useful in this scenario.
Several types of modern antibiotics are available, and they are usually only available with a prescription in the United States. Topical antibiotics are available in over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments.
When are antibiotics needed?
This complicated question, which should be answered by your healthcare provider, depends on the specific diagnosis. For example, there are several types of infections—most need antibiotics, but some do not. The infections can affect several parts of the urinary tract, but the most common type is a bladder infection (cystitis).
Viruses are an uncommon cause of UTIs in an immunocompetent host; however, viruses are increasingly recognized as the cause of lower UTI, especially hemorrhagic cystitis, among immune-compromised patients. Viral UTI infections can sometimes become complicated and a bacterial infection can develop.
Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotics and find out about the differences between viruses and bacteria, and when antibiotics should and should not be used.
If your child receives an antibiotic, be sure to give it exactly as prescribed to decrease the development of resistant bacteria. Have your child finish the entire prescription. Don’t stop when the symptoms of infection go away.
Never save the leftover antibiotics to use “just in case.” This practice can also lead to bacterial resistance.
- Do not share your antibiotics with someone else or take an antibiotic that was prescribed for someone else.
- Antibiotic resistance is a problem in both children and adults.
Remember that taking antibiotics appropriately and making sure your child receives the proper immunizations will help prevent having to take more dangerous and more costly medicines. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.
How To Get Antibiotics For UTI Without Seeing A Doctor?
There are no legal ways to get antibiotics for a UTI without seeing a doctor or healthcare provider who is licensed to prescribe such medications for your UTI. You can get this done, by simply booking an appointment to see your doctor in person, over the phone, or by utilizing several online pharmaceutical or e-medicine platforms.
Nevertheless, there are several other ways you can treat your UTI without taking antibiotics, they include:
1. Try cranberries
Cranberries may contain an ingredient that stops bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract.
Though research is inconclusive, some studies suggest that you might be able to reduce your risk of UTIs with cranberry products, including unsweetened cranberry juice, cranberry supplements, or dried cranberries.
But other studies have noted that the use of cranberries to prevent UTIs doesn’t produce consistent results, so more research is needed.
If cranberry juice isn’t quite to your taste, consider trying AZO Cranberry Caplets. These cranberry powder caplets are designed to promote urinary tract health. Each box contains 50 caplets.
2. Drink plenty of water
Although urinating can be painful when you have a UTI, it’s important to drink as many fluids as possible — particularly water. Most adults should aim to drink between six and eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
The more you drink, the more you’ll urinate, which can help flush harmful bacteria from the urinary tract.
3. Pee when you need to
Holding your urine or ignoring the urge to urinate can allow bacteria to multiply in your urinary tract. As a rule of thumb, always use the bathroom when you feel the urge.
It’s also important to make sure you’re fully emptying your bladder when you urinate and to always urinate after sex, especially if you have a vagina. If you do, it’s also important to wipe front to back after you urinate.
4. Take probiotics
Probiotics promote healthy digestion and immunity. They also may be effective in treating and preventing UTIs when used alongside standard antibiotic therapy.
With a UTI, bad bacteria replace good bacteria in the urogenital system, especially those of one group called Lactobacillus. Probiotics can restore good bacteria and might reduce the recurrence of a UTI.
Though some research suggests that probiotics may be effective in UTI prevention and treatment, more studies are needed.
If you’re interested in trying probiotics for urinary tract health, consider Align’s Dualbiotic supplement, an easy-to-take pre and probiotic designed to help with digestive health.
5. Get more vitamin C
Increasing your intake of vitamin C may help boost your immune system.
But some research has found conflicting evidence for the effectiveness of vitamin C in treating UTIs, noting that not enough studies have been done to support this treatment.
6. Wear loose clothing
Wearing cotton-lined and loose-fitting clothing may ease symptoms of an existing UTI infection by helping to keep the area dry and clean.
Tight-fitting clothing and certain types of fabric can trap moisture that allows bacteria to grow in the genital area, which could worsen the infection.
7. Consider switching birth control
Some older research suggests that certain contraceptives may contribute to the cause of UTIs in some women.
If you use diaphragms, spermicides, or nonlubricated condoms and get frequent UTIs, it may be worth talking with your doctor to consider other methods of birth control.
8. Use a heating pad
Applying a heating pad to your lower abdomen can help ease some of the discomforts that come with a UTI and reduce frequent trips to the bathroom that can cause painful burning.
If you’re experiencing severe pain that doesn’t let up even with at-home methods, it’s probably best to see a doctor about your symptoms.
What can I do to prevent antibiotic resistance?
The best way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to use antibiotics correctly. Take them only when needed. Here are some of the ways you can help:
- Don’t take an antibiotic for a virus.
- Don’t save an antibiotic for the next time you get sick.
- Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Don’t skip doses. Complete your full course of treatment even if you are feeling better.
- Never take an antibiotic prescribed for someone else.
Healthcare providers can also help by:
- Only prescribing antibiotics that are needed
- Targeting the medicine as soon as possible to the specific bacteria involved
- Prescribing medicines for only as long as needed
Other public health measures can also help lower resistance. That includes cutting the use of antibiotics in livestock.
Healthcare providers also need to take steps to stop the spread of these infections. These bacteria are very common in healthcare settings. They should always maintain good hygiene. They should also always use methods that control infection.